Drafters of a deeply concerning euthanasia bill, to be debated this week in the Tasmanian parliament have widened its scope to include those suffering from non-terminal illnesses, warns the Australian Christian Lobby.

ACL Tasmanian Director Mark Brown said that unlike the 2013 bill which was already deemed by parliamantarians as too dangerous for the vulnerable, this bill would allow those suffering a whole host of non-terminal conditions like chronic arthritis or diabetes to be assisted to die.

“This would have a devastating impact in the community by sending a confusing message about society’s acceptance of suicide,” Mr Brown said.

“Euthanasia is known to bring pressure on the most vulnerable and widening the eligibility will only serve to increase that pressure on those we should be protecting.

“As a society we do everything in our power to help restore those suffering from issues that may lead to suicide. Every suicide has an untold impact on family and friends. To deliberately assist those with non-terminal conditions in ending their lives is an incredibly dangerous step.

“Allowing the eligibility criteria for euthanasia and assisted-suicide to include non-terminal medical conditions means it is no longer a last resort option. 

“Drafters of the bill seem to be trying to pull euthanasia laws in a radical direction that is out of step with the community’s desire to prevent assisted suicide.   

“Extraordinarily, death certificates under this bill, can be falsified to claim the cause of death was the non-terminal disease.” 

Last week, a Victorian government taskforce also recommend that death certificates be falsified so that the cause of death is hidden to protect life insurance payouts.

“If the bill isn’t grounded in truth, what other deceptions will occur to justify life or death decisions if this becomes legal?”

Mr Brown said the “safeguards” built in to the Northern Territory’s short-live euthanasia law, under which seven people were killed in the 1990s, were breached by leading euthanasia activist Dr Philip Nitschke.

Dr Nitschke even admitted to a Tasmanian Parliamentary inquiry that his breaches of the law were justified because “it was a breach motivated…by compassion” (Hansard p. 112-113).

Mr Brown said if such legislation were introduced it would profoundly change the nature of medicine and the doctor/patient relationship.

“All trainee doctors would need to be taught how to kill.

“Around 95 per cent of countries in the world do not have medical killing laws – and for good reason. Doctors for thousands of years have been trained to be healers, not killers.

The Australian Medical Association’s position supports this: “The AMA believes that doctors should not be involved in interventions that have as their primary intention the ending of a person’s life.”

Mr Brown said, “Governments have a duty to consider the impact on the whole of society when considering legislation.”

“It is clear from jurisdictions that have allowed medical killing that it is impossible to safely legislate to grant autonomy for the few, without creating danger to many other vulnerable individuals in society. This latest attempt to introduce such laws should therefore be vigorously opposed,” he said.

The ACL is encouraging people to email their MPs to ask them to vote ‘No’ to euthanasia is Tasmania.